CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As much as some might prefer to dance around the subject, Jon Alexander has unearthed a one-word answer to explain how his transfer from South Charleston to George Washington High School via Hargrave Military Academy has affected his relationships with former teammates.
"When we're off the field we're friends. When we're on it, we're enemies," said Alexander, GW's senior quarterback who had served as the Black Eagles' starter in 2011 and through the first half of 2012.
When the teams kick off the 2013 season at 7:30 p.m. today at Steve Edwards Sr. Field in South Hills, his former position will be filled by SC sophomore Kentre Grier. Alexander lost his starting job last season at halftime of SC's game against Capital on Sept. 21. Grier came on in relief and led the Black Eagles to a 20-17 come-from-behind win, and soon afterward, Alexander had left for Hargrave.
"I believe that things happen for a reason," Alexander said of his departure from SC and his parents' decision to return to the Kanawha Valley to live in the GW school district.
"Of course I want to think about the game plan. I try to think of this as just a game, just a stepping stone to where I'm trying to get to," Alexander said. "I don't think of it as anything but a game and an opponent. I just block out everything everybody says."
Patriots Coach Steve Edwards Jr. shrugged off any distraction Alexander's move to GW might have caused to his program, as well as the necessity of addressing the issue as a reason to be excited about the start of the season.
"It's a ballgame that everybody knows what the deal is," Edwards said of Alexander's move. "You just hope that everybody can control their emotions and just play football.
"It's a nice, high school football rivalry, the kids know each other real well and that's what it's all about. It's the start of everybody's new chapter that they're writing."
George Washington is coming off a 10-3 season and a playoff semifinals appearance in 2012. South Charleston is looking to break a two-year playoff drought after it failed to make to postseason with a 6-4 record a year ago.
If history is an indicator of future events, there should be plenty to satisfy football fans who don't need an extra dose of drama to enjoy a game.
Excluding the 2008 Class AAA state championship game won by the Black Eagles in Wheeling, the visiting team has won three of the last five meetings in the series.
SC won the title game in 2008, 39-8. Other than that lopsided win and a 61-0 rout of the Black Eagles in 2011, no game in the series has been settled by more than 14 points since the Black Eagles won 26-3 in 2005.
"I was talking to Steve the other night and we were talking about that since I came here in 2006 as an assistant, there's only been two blowouts," first-year South Charleston Coach Donnie Mays said Wednesday. "There was in the state title game, then the time at their place when they beat us.
"They were just better than us then. The other times, I think it's been pretty close every time."